From April 18 to 21, I attended the 15th International Social Security Association (ISSA) Conference on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Casablanca, Morocco. How important is ICT in Social Security? Well, ICT often makes the difference between what can or can’t be done in terms of policies and service delivery. Failure to establish adequate ICT strategies and capacity can impact the government’s ability to meet public expectations, and this can have political implications. Gone are the days when Social Security agencies worked with paper-based forms, and caseworkers took decisions only after all the forms had been completed. For many years, ICT has been the driving force behind “Dynamic Social Security”. This was acknowledged in the keynote speeches at the ISSA ICT Conference.
SAP, together with IBM and Accenture, was invited by the International Social Security Association to participate in their conference, having been acknowledged as one of the leading software vendors in Social Security – something to be proud of! SAP’s involvement was spearheaded by it’s think tank for Public Sector, the SAP Institute for Digital Government (SIDG), which aims to create value for government by leveraging digital technology to meet the needs of citizens and consumers of government services. The SIDG has been especially focused in the area of Dynamic Social Security. For example, the Institute published a paper together with the Australian National University on ‘The Digital Nudge in Social Security Administration’, explaining how predictive analytics could help drive behavioral change for better social and economic outcomes. Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Secretary General of the ISSA, observed: Social Security requires increasingly innovative digital solutions to provide effective and quality services to citizens.
In preparation for the ISSA ICT Conference, the SIDG published four articles exploring the application of digital technologies to enable Data-driven Government:
- Emerging technologies enabling data-driven policy and practice
- Combatting wicked problems with predictive analytics
- Improving customer empathy with machine learning
- Overcoming big data challenges with real-time computing
SAP was invited to present a Plenary Session, in which we explored the application of Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning and Real-time Computing to Social Security policy and practice. The session included a video of a machine learning prototype, developed by Queensland Office of State Revenue. In addition, SAP hosted a Workshop Session, in which we presented a draft Maturity Model for Data-driven Government, and encouraged real-time contributions from the ISSA members. Once finalized, the model will enable agencies and governments to self-assess their preparedness for data-driven transformation.
SAP was also invited to participate in a final Plenary Session, in which we shared our vision for the future of ICT in Social Security. SAP challenged the audience to consider the ‘why’ of Social Security. Why do people need assistance, why do they turn to government, why it is important to better understand their needs, why is ICT key to enabling this?
Here is the synopsis for each of the abovementioned sessions:
Advanced application of ICT – Existing practices and related guidelines: ICT has led to a complete transformation of operations and services. As Social Security institutions move away from traditional desk-based services to comprehensive, 24/7 systems. The rapid evolution and dynamics of technology poses significant challenges to institutions. These are defined not only in terms of technical, financial and management issues but also involve the selection of the appropriate technology that would be most suitable to institutional needs.
Emerging technologies: overview, experiences and demonstrations
New service delivery possibilities that seemed futuristic only a few years ago are now within reach. The application of Big Data, Analytics, Cognitive Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain are transforming how Social Security institutions do business.
ICT Industry Forum – Round table on strategies
The ISSA ICT Industry Forum is aimed at exchanging on key challenges faced by Social Security institutions in the implementation of ICT. The goal is to develop a strategic cooperation between the ICT industry, the ISSA and the ISSA member organizations. The issue of interoperability will be central to the discussion.
In his closing remarks Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Secretary General of the ISSA, acknowledged SAP, Accenture and IBM. He remarked: The industry has changed over the years; now the vendors understand that they have a responsibility and therefore they have become humble. Working with the Industry is critical for Social Security institutions and vice versa. Looking to cost-efficient proven solutions is something both industry and representatives from Social Security agencies should aim for.
I felt humbled by that statement and very proud to be part of SAP’s delegation to the ISSA ICT Conference. SAP is a purpose-driven company with a mission of improving peoples’ lives, and the Secretary General’s comments suggests that we are on the right track!